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International Trade Commission Rules NVIDIA Violated Rambus Patents

In a ruling that might send cold shivers in NVIDIA’s way, the International Trade Commission reported its findings over the lawsuit involving NVIDIA and Rambus over Patent infringement and the hammer appeared not to favor NVIDIA.

NVIDIA Found in Violation

In its ruling, the commission established that NVIDIA was in violation of Rambus’ three patents. To top it up, the commission gave the injunction Rambus had sought to stop NVIDIA and the myriad of other companies in the case such as Asus, HP, Palit and MSI etc from the sale of products with the intellectual patent found to have been infringed upon by the companies being sued. This ruling reminds me of the previous ruling the Trade Commission made in January that basically found NVIDIA of having infringed three Rambus patents but dismissed two other claims Rambus had launched as well. Therefore, the latest ruling is nothing but an affirmation of the fact that NVIDIA had already been found to be in violation of intellectual property rights.

Injunction’s Powers

The injunction however is more of a theoretical than a mitigative step as there still is a 60 day period before it can be effected and as such, NVIDIA has already indicated that it is considering a range of available options. According to NVIDIA’s spokesperson, the ruling is expected to have no major effect on the company’s customers nor its business as the company plans to make use of the obligatory European Commission License that it has. In that regard, NVIDIA hopes that move will enable it push ahead with its business with regard to the conditions of the European Commission License that basically curtails the enforcement of the injunction sought by Rambus. However, this is kind of interesting because the other companies involved in the saga seem to be reading from a totally different script.

Different tales and Situations

Companies such HP, Asus and the other in the suite are required to provide a 2.65% bond on each product they sell during the 60 day window period they were granted as the review process continues. Even so, the two main contenders in the patents suite are rather spinning different tales altogether. Whereas Rambus chief executive expressed his excitement with the Trade Commission’s ruling, stating that it was representative of Rambus’ dedication to innovation, NVIDIA on the other hand boasted that the additional licensing fees from Rambus may account for no more than 1% of their gross margin. If like me you are wondering why NVIDIA did not then just buy the patent rights altogether at once, it is s hard question.

If you have your history over Rambus and its patent suites, you will remember that the company has had some of the most patent suites, aggressively going after companies that violate its patent rights and if history is anything to follow, Rambus has shown us that it is an innovative firm whose creations are at the core of technologies in DDR-RAM and memory controllers. Even though the Trade Commission’s decision may not cost NVIDIA in any material way, it remains to be seen how the whole issue will pun out.

The Impending Feud of Apple and Kodak

In the ongoing feud between Apple and Kodak regarding patent rights, Apple has filed a patent infringement suit in the US District Court against Kodak, along with the complaint in the International Trade Commission (ITC). The complaints from Apples court came nearly after four months, after Kodak launched ITC complaints along with the Lawsuit against Apple and RIM, regarding the violation of the Kodak patents for the camera in mobile devices.

Kodak first claimed in January that iPhone and Blackberry violated couple of patents regarding the digital imaging. The patents filed by Kodak against Apple and RIM include:

  • “Electronic Camera for Initiating Capture of Still Images while Previewing Motion Images” (US Patent #6,292,218) and
  • “Single Sensor Color Camera with User Selectable Image Record Size” (US Patent #5,493,335)

Along with these, Kodak filed patents against Apple regarding the infringement of other three software patents which include:

  • “Integration of Data Between Typed Objects by Mutal [sic], Direct Invocation Between Data Managers Corresponding to Data Types” (US Patent #5,226,161)
  • “Multitasking Computer System for Integrating the Operation of Different Application Programs which Manipulate Data Objects of Different Types” (US Patent #5,421,012) and
  • “Link Mechanism for Linking Data Between Objects and for Performing Operations on the Linked Data in an Object Based System” (US Patent #5,303,379).

In the response of these patents filed by Kodak, Apple claimed that the patents filed by Kodak are invalid stating procedural issues, duplication of other patents and obviousness of some of the patents’ claims as a valid reason. Apple requested the US District Court to find the patents invalid. Apple also stated that in case the patents are not invalid, it is still liable to use the technology as it has an express license.

Apple has also alleged Kodak of violating two of its patents in digital still and video cameras. The two patents filed by Apple include:

  • “System and Method for Using a Unified Memory Architecture to Implement a Digital Camera Device” (US Patent #6,031,964) and
  • “Modular Digital Image Processing via an Image Processing Chain with Modifiable Parameter Controls”

Nearly all the still image cameras and the recently launched SLICE models of Kodak have been targeted by Apple for patent violation.

Over the years Apple has strongly opposed any patent infringement of its products, as it damages their brand identity. Since Apple is the first company to set a trend in the gadget market, it becomes necessary for it to protect its patent database.

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